The FireWatch early bushfire smoke detection system is based upon technology developed by the German Aerospace Institute as part of the NASA Mars Pathfinder Mission. The European Space Agency had the responsibility of surveying the surface of Mars prior to the Pathfinder vehicle landing on the red planet, and it is this patented scanning technology that innovative German company IQ Wireless developed into the FireWatch smoke detection system.
The German Forest Authority commenced testing of remote bushfire sensing technology in 1998 establishing a parallel test process between the FireWatch sensor-based technology and a range of CCTV and infrared technologies.
The outcome of this trial was a decision to move forward exclusively with detailed testing of only the FireWatch system on the basis that the CCTV and infrared technologies failed to deliver long range, reliable or automatic detection capabilities that could be built-out into a national detection network.
This second round of trials concluded successfully in 2000 after which the German Government made the decision to roll-out the National Forest Fire Detection Network. Work commenced on this roll-out in 2002 taking three years to complete.